In the last few months I literally thought it would be a good idea to have some Associated Press (AP) #TipforTuesday blog posts to share. The initial thought was to help others, but I found that the reminders were beneficial for me as well. The idea was just some AP tips that figuratively we all use on a daily basis, correctly and incorrectly.
My last four blog posts were:
The incorrect use of first and second annual: My First Annual Blog
AP style titles: Is it All About the Title?
AP style times: Is Timing Really Everything
The use of more than and over: Somewhere More Than the Rainbow
This week’s blog post, however, is the correct use of figuratively and literally and the simplest breakdown of an explanation came from Grammarist.com:
Literally means exactly, in a strict sense, or to the letter. For example, when someone says, “I am literally foaming at the mouth,” this literally means real foam is coming out of his or her mouth.
Figuratively means in a metaphorical sense—that is, not in a real sense but in a way that is expressed through figures of speech. So when someone says, “I am figuratively foaming at the mouth,” we can infer that he or she is using the idiom foaming at the mouth, which means very angry, and that no mouth foam is actually present.
Quite often people use the term literally when they mean figuratively or very or truly just to add emphasis to a statement. However, even though it is widely used, this use is literally incorrect.
But I bet you didn’t know that (according to dictionary.com) literally is one of the most misused words in the English language. I have to wonder if this will soon become the new more than vs over debate? In a recent article by Richard Nordquist, How Word Meanings Change, there will be no debate, it has figuratively already been decided.
Has it literally?
What do you literally and figuratively think?